Despite pushing hard all the way, Rainworth MW failed to sign off their stay in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League with a win as they were pipped 2-1 at Coalville Town on Saturday.
The Wrens, who had elected to volunteer for relegation on financial grounds, before they actually finished in the bottom two anyway, lost for a 12th time this season by the margin of a solitary goal in a real ‘if only’ season.
It was Coalville Town had the first opportunity, but the initial shot was blocked and Dean Freeman cleared the follow-up.
Rainworth’s first effort came a couple of minutes later when Kuwesi Ofushine’s effort was easily gathered by Sean Bowles.
Coalville continued to press but Tom Byrne’s effort was just over and Ian Robinson blocked Ellis Storey’s effort at the expense of a corner.
The breakthrough came in the 29th minute when Nathan Watson showed just why he is regarded one of the most lethal finishers in the division.
There seemed little danger when he made a yard, but he hit an unstoppable shot that went in off the upright and into the net. It was a goal that would grace any match and it was down to the finish rather than the Rainworth defending.
A good Rainworth period of pressure ended with Kelleher’s cross being blocked when well placed.
A minute later and Coalville’s Byrne’s cross was hit into the sidenetting by Jake Woolley.
Rainworth breathed a sigh of relief in the 42nd minute when a through ball found Alex Dean in an offside position, but such is the current offside law that, even though he moved towards the ball, he was deemed not to have gained an advantage.
Another player ran from an onside position and in the ensuing chase Freeman appeared to pull him back. However, the referee waved play-on. At best it was a yellow card and some referees would have given red for the incident.
While Coalville appealed Rainworth went straight down the other end, but Kelleher’s effort was easily saved.
At the start of the second half Rainworth brought on Oliver Brock for Darren Mansaram.
In the 51st minute Rainworth should have equalised, but when Glodi Bange caught Bowles out of his goal, instead of shooting he dallied and the ball eventually found Leon Osborne whose effort found the sidenetting.
Three minutes later Coalville thought they had doubled their lead when Ellis Storey’s effort came off the crossbar and Luke Smithson put it into the net. Much to Rainworth’s relief the linesman raised his flag for offside.
They nearly capitalised a couple of minutes later when a mix-up between Robinson and David Reay saw the ball find Woolley, but his effort hit the post.
Coalville continued to press and when Watson’s effort was blocked, Woolley blazed his effort over the bar.
The 64th minute saw Chris Bettney replace Robinson.
A minute later Joe Hopewell tested Reay with a long range effort that was easily dealt with.
Then disaster struck as Reay’s clearance kick went straight to the unmarked Woolley, and he despatched the gift straight past the keeper and into the net for 2-0.
Rainworth were undaunted and went straight down the other end where Ofushine found Osborne, who cut inside and only a full length block by Bowles prevented Rainworth pulling one back.
Then an Ofushine effort just went over the bar.
Rainworth made their final substitution, bringing on Aboubacar Sylla for Thomas Pereira.
The game was now end to end and Brock put his effort wide, while at the other end Smithson and Woolley came close.
Rainworth continued to press and were rewarded in the 88th minute when Osborne broke clear and laid it on for Ofushine, who put it by Bowles into the net. The somersault celebration that followed was worth the admission fee on its own.
There was still time for one last Coalville effort, but Reay saved brilliantly from Woolley.
At the final whistle Coalville deserved the victory, but Rainworth, with a little more belief, could so easily have got something out of the game.
RAINWORTH: Reay, I. Robinson (Bettney), Hoggett-Young, Freeman, Hannigan, Pereira (Sylla), Ofushine, Kelleher, Mansaram (Brock), Osborne, Bange.
REFEREE: Nick Hopton.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Dean Freeman.